THE HAGUE – The northeastern Mexican state of Nuevo Leon will be able to fight “crime with intelligence, not bullets,” thanks to the assistance provided by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), which is based in The Netherlands, the state’s attorney general, Gustavo Adolfo Guerrero Gutierrez, said in an interview with EFE.
A delegation from Nuevo Leon traveled to The Hague and visited the laboratories of the ICMP, an organization that will provide the Attorney General’s Office in that Mexican state with assistance over the next four years.
A total of 2,930 have been listed as missing in Nuevo Leon since 2007, Guerrero said.
The situation in the state worsened during the militarized war on drugs declared in December 2006 by then-President Felipe Calderon that led to more than 200,000 deaths in Mexico.
Calderon’s successors, Enrique Peña Nieto and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who took office on Dec. 1, have scaled back military deployments.
Lopez Obrador, in fact, said in January that the war on Mexico’s drug cartels was over.
Guerrero told EFE that his team would rely on a new approach to fighting crime, “using intelligence with technical and scientific aspects. That’s the new reality of justice in Mexico.”
Nuevo Leon’s government will rely for assistance on the ICMP, which has “highly recognized scientific and technical knowledge, and has played a role in important matters of an international nature having to do with justice in other countries,” Guerrero said.
The ICMP was founded in 1996 to work on the disappearances that occurred during the wars in the former Yugoslavia.
After more than 20 years of work, the ICMP has found the remains of 75 percent of the approximately 40,000 people listed as missing in the wars in the Balkans.
ICMP specialists will travel to Nuevo Leon to evaluate the investigative and forensic capabilities of the AG’s office, help improve the search system and introduce personnel, for example, to new technology for obtaining DNA from human bones that have been damaged by fire.
Mexico’s drug cartels and other criminal organizations often dispose of victims’ bodies by burning them or dissolving the remains in vats of acid.
Under the agreement, Mexican investigators will travel to The Netherlands “for on-site training” at the ICMP’s facilities, Guerrero said, noting that his personnel would then be able to use what they learn on the job.
Better trained investigators should be able to gather evidence that will help clear up open cases.
“We have to be able to take on the criminals before the authorities,” Guerrero said, adding that “the Attorney General’s Office’s activities before the courts have to be based on investigations that are scientific and technical.”
One of the biggest problems for Mexico’s criminal justice system is lack of public trust in the authorities because “there was much corruption in the past and infiltration of police forces by organized crime,” the Nuevo Leon AG said.
The US Agency for International Development (USAID) is covering the cost of the $2 million cooperation program between the ICMP and Nuevo Leon, which borders Texas.